Area not short on talented post players
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The holidays notwithstanding, there's a long line at the A-K Valley post office.
The area has a collection of tall, multi-talented girls basketball players who can do a lot more than put stars on top of Christmas trees. Versatile frontcourt players are set to guide teams from the paint to the playoffs beginning Friday in their season-opening tournaments.
“Being tall is a privilege,” Kiski Area 5-foot-10 senior forward Maddie Antone said. “But a lot of us want to show what we can do away from the basket, too.”
Antone has been a model of consistency on the low block. Just 21 points away from 1,000 for her career, she averaged 16.7 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior. She was the A-K Valley's player of the year as a sophomore.
But she is not alone. Other local bigs looking to have strong seasons include Fox Chapel junior Erin Mathias, St. Joseph junior Mallory Heinle and Burrell freshman Natalie Myers.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the group is the 6-3 Mathias, who verbally committed to Duke when she was a freshman. Mathias finally appears to be healthy and ready to show why Blue Devils coaches believe she can play in the ACC. She missed her entire sophomore season after having surgery on her right knee.
“Knee's great; I can't wait to get out and play,” said Mathias, who averaged a double-double and had a 32-rebound game as a freshman.
Like the boys game, traditional post players are fading. Don't expect players like Antone and Mathias to do all of their damage with their backs to the basket. Seemingly natural fits to play power forward or center, these girls have the go-ahead — and talent — to roam the floor.
“Maddie is going to surprise some people,” Kiski Area first-year coach Nick Ionadi said. “She has the ability to do a lot of things, she just hasn't had the freedom. She's been getting hammered in the post. She has range, and she has the green light to shoot from the outside.”
Antone can't wait to explore the court.
“Finally,” she said. “I was always told not to shoot before, so I am looking forward to it. My shot is crispy and nice, so I can't wait to put it up.”
Mathias, Heinle and Myers have shown they also can play on the perimeter, in a similar role to former Ford City standout Marisa Wolfe, now a senior on the Penn State women's team.
At 6-3, Wolfe was an imposing presence inside, yet was given freedom to roam on the outside and even run the point later in her prep career.
“Coach (Meagan Meabon) has allowed me to expand my game,” Mathias said. “I have played the five (center) spot but also have been at the three (small forward).
“I love to shoot and be able to show my outside skill.”
Myers has yet to play a game but already is receiving praise from coaches and teammates. Expected to start right away, Myers handled the basketball in various scenarios for the Bucs in fall leagues.
“We can play her everywhere,” Burrell coach Meghan Ziemianski said.
Kiski Area has another post threat in 6-3 Channing James. Ionadi sees raw talent in the rising center. James is a sophomore who transferred from Highlands.
“She's young, but she can be disruptive,” Ionadi said. “She has a lot to learn, but she's worked her butt off. You can see her getting better.”
Antone thinks her team will benefit from her modified position.
“It's nice to have options,” Antone said. “Me shooting from the outside helps everybody out. I'm not the only one who can score.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.